My trip to Florida for Spring Break was one of the most memorable events in my life. I was there for a week doing environmental restoration work, such as building oyster reefs, planting, and removing invasive species. In between the hard work that we did, we also made sure that we had some fun. For example, we explored the Farmer’s Market in Downtown Stuart, spent all-day paddleboarding/kayaking to St. Lucie inlet, and, of course, beach time!
Mike Yustin, our community partner, arranged our projects before we came. He also made sure that our projects were enjoyable as well as educational. For example, we toured the Florida Oceanographic Society aquaculture research center at the site where we were gathering oyster shells and showed us marine microorganisms underneath a microscope. Another example was when we spent the morning doing work– some of us built the bridge while the rest of us were planting. Then, after lunch, we were able to learn about the gopher tortoises roaming around the park, how prescribed fires are done properly, and how to determine wetlands from uplands through the changes in the soil.
When we return to the campsite every night, there’s always a group of three who prepares dinner for the rest of the group, and, after dinner, we have a campfire and reflect on the day. Charles, our learning partner for the trip, as well as trip leaders Mimi and Elizabeth, lead the discussion every night.
Despite receiving cuts and bruises all over my body and overcoming some physical challenges, I had the best time of my life. Shout out to SAIL for coordinating this trip and to the amazing trip leaders for taking care of us, and to Mike for arranging the service projects and for inviting us to his home during our last day in Florida. Lastly, shout out to all my fellow students who went on this trip for making me laugh!! If only I didn’t have to graduate early, I would do this trip all over again!!